23 Skiddoo by Wyman Wicket

23 Skiddoo

Way Back Beyond Across the Stars
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut novel from Wicket that combines sci-fi storytelling with New Age philosophy.

Nathaniel Sos is a writer and researcher, and many readers would call him a conspiracy theorist. In this book, however, his paranoia is entirely justified, as he’s being monitored by an assortment of shadowy earthly, alien, and celestial forces. His discovery of a dead body in a public park leads to his entanglement in numerous cosmic projects, such as the engineering of a soul-sucking alien hybrid, satanic cult kidnappings, and industrial production of “anti-wave” devices that “disrupt the conditioning wave frequencies emitted by the System’s devices.” So many different characters juggle so many different plotlines, often with inscrutable motives, that it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s going on. Many of these characters expound their philosophies or beliefs over several pages; Sos himself recounts his own polemical writings frequently, and seven chapters are dedicated entirely to verbatim transmissions from space aliens, expounding an alternative history of Earth and the human race. Citations and footnotes sprinkled throughout the text indicate that this book is located within a nexus of conspiratorial research—the book’s introduction acknowledges that “true believers” may be bored by the familiar arguments within. They may also find the characters’ lengthy ontological diatribes tiresome, as they tend to be both inscrutable and unengaging. The book’s more traditional novelistic elements fare better; Sos, for example, who alternates between self-aggrandizing paranoia and total confusion, is genuinely appealing, as are the two savvier characters who guide him: cynical capitalist Ex and Marxist spy Ivan. At times, the narrative also delivers unexpected, genuinely delightful moments of humorous weirdness: Sos' ghostwriter, Mr. Moth, for example, is an actual ghost who lives in Sos' attic who becomes addicted to Little Debbie snack cakes. But these bright points are overwhelmed by the book’s overly complicated plot and its tendency toward confusing diatribes.

Despite some good characterization choices, readers who aren’t “true believers” will likely find this rambling combination of space opera and conspiracy theory unengaging.

Publisher: Lulu
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:




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